It's been a pretty exciting week. Never mind giving gifts and watching little faces glow with happiness (and minecraft!) but we dropped the Jovian Wars Alpha Rules package on the 25th and the response has been better than we hoped. Hundreds of people have downloaded the rules for free and thousands(!) have viewed the announcement on facebook.
The response on the forums has been excellent too. We're in the process of setting up a section exclusively for Jovian Wars but until then the threads are located in the Jovian Chronicles section listed with Jovian Wars or JW prefixes to separate them from the RPG and older skirmish game Lightning Strike. Lightning strike is where you can also find a lot of the background material for Jovian Wars as Jovian Wars is set slightly later than the events in the RPG. You can also find the excellent source books as PDFs on DrivethroughRPG with the Ships of the Fleet series being exceptionally excellent.
This weeks blog post is a mix of a lot of different things for the player community to be aware of. Resources, ideas, and game design. All things to digest as we launch into the Jovian Wars open alpha play test period.
As part of official support for Jovian Wars, the new forum section etc, there's an Errata/FAQ that will be maintained on the forums with regular updates. We won't be updating the PDF until it is released though all errata will be marked with a date so that players can easily scan for changes. If you're not sure about something, check the errata or the frequently asked questions (FAQ) first before posting. If you're not sure, reach out!
In addition I have started on a series of videos on youtube that will give a look at every section of the alpha rules. Each section will be listed with the book section number and tagged with the same number making it easy to search for; Example: Jovian Wars 101: 3.0 Model Types.
The list of sections in the first wave of videos will include 2.2 Game components, 2.7 Model Attributes, 2.8 Phases, 6.0 Attacking Exo vs Exo and 6.0 Exo vs Capital ship; 8.3 Repair Special Action. These should be live before the new year.
This leads me to the next part of this blog;. The most important part of this Alpha is feedback. Already there have been readers posting questions and requests for clarification. Even some sharp eyes whose experience with the Jovian Chronicles RPG means that they are able to point out slight attribute changes to better match the historical models and traits that were missed on ships. These have already formed the basis for the Errata & FAQ. The Alpha PDF contains information of how to submit feedback, and I welcome all of it.
There are some aspects of the previous game incarnations that won't translate into the Jovian Wars game. One that simply had to be simplified was Drones. In the new rules drones are a bonus dice that you add to missile attacks, point defense, and repair rules. In the old rules they were independent models that were launched and fought for you. This type of large independent model may return in the future, but for now we nod to the game effects they would have. This kind of retcon is sometimes needed to speed up the game and prevent an arms race where players compete to see who can summon additional models onto the table the fastest to overwhelm their opponents.
Another aspect is individual Exos and fighters roaming about. Currently there are only squadrons available and there are no options for customizing the components of a squadron though this may be added in the future. Currently the attributes for squadrons are derived from a formula where each figure contributes to the overall abilities of the squadron. This is currently beyond the limits of what I want to achieve with the alpha rules, namely identifying critical game rules that require work, improvement, or replacement.
As I've said before in reference to the Heavy Gear living rule book. My job, and role in the community, is to be the curator of the rules. I do the initial development and testing but it is a community effort to make the rules the best that they can be. Time and time again members of the Heavy Gear community have solved design dilemmas or pointed out balance issues or organizational fixes that improve the game and the experience for all players. The fantastic thing about the community participating in a project like this really gives players a connection to the game. Giving feedback may seem like a small thing to do but even one comment could improve the game massively if you are the only person who makes it. The only exception to this is if you work for NASA and want to chip in. If you do please contact me directly and invite me to your place of work! Jovian Wars takes place in a future only a few hundred years into the future in our own solar system, a place we're learning more about every day it seems so the current state of research is really informing the game. The world of large scale mecha is coming soon if the megabots challenge is any indication. It's the model-T ford era of mecha and articulated exo-skeletons will be used for certain in space exploration.
It's the end of 2016. Here at Dream Pod 9 we hope we've given something great to our community. It's the players that support the work we do, and we thank everyone who participates by building and painting, posting on the forums, liking and sharing our posts on facebook, and playing Heavy Gear Assault on Steam. Or just enjoying the worlds of Heavy Gear and Jovian Wars, Jovian Chronicles, Tribe 8 or any other world that Dream pod 9 has brought to your tables or screens. Thanks to all of you!
Happy New Year!